Italian festival ‘La Madonna Della Neve’ celebrates that time ancient Rome saw snowfall in August 358 AD
Many SnowBrains readers will have heard of Ullr, the Norse god of snow. You might even remember that we had an article about Skadi, Goddess of Snow. Anyway, it might be news to you that in fact, it is the Virgin Mary of Christianity who, according to this Italian legend, can bring snow.
Last weekend a party was celebrated all over Italy in the name of the ‘Mary of the Snow’ or in Italian ‘La Madonna Della Neve’. This celebration dates back to 358 AD and celebrates the supposed “miracle of snowfall” on August 5 in Rome.
Legend has it that the Virgin Mary (Madonna) appeared to Pope Liberius and a childless but wealthy patrician couple in a dream. In their dream, Mary asked them to build a church at a place in Rome that she would later reveal to them. When they woke up, they found the Esquiline Hill area covered in snow. Obviously, that was her way of indicating where she wanted the church to be since it was August and they were in Rome after all, so it wasn’t a natural occurrence. So they took that as a sign from Mary and built her a church: La Basilica Della Madonna Della Neve (the Church of Mary of the Snow).
Over the years, many other churches have been built in the name of “La Dame de la neige”. Today, a total of 150 so-named churches are found throughout Italy. To commemorate the miracle of the snow, every August 5, different parties are organized in these churches. In some cases, “snow” falls at midnight, usually in the form of white confetti or flower petals, to honor the phenomenon.
The Italian ice cream maker Antica Gelateria del Corso has created an ice cream especially for this celebration this year. The ‘Nevicata’, which means snowfall in English, was offered to the faithful at the Basilica in Rome: a lemon ice cream garnished with orange and ginger and sprinkled with white meringue on top.
So maybe this year we should pray to the Virgin Mary to make it snow, because if she can make it snow in Rome in August, she can definitely make it snow in your hometown ski resort. So on that note, I’m going to make the sacrifice of stuffing myself with lemon ice cream. I’ll tell you if it brought me snow.
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